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Perhaps the best way to limit a child’s exposure to bullying is by finding ways to avoid the bullies in the first place. Here are some ideas that will help you limit the chances your child has to encounter a bully:

Bullying Avoidance Strategies for Youth

Tip #1: Talk to teacher. Consider staying after class for 30 seconds or a minute to talk to the teachers or ask a question so that you’re staggering the times you leave, making it less likely you’ll encounter a bully in the hallway.

Tip #2: Varied routes. Try walking a different route to and from school, or walking a different route on different days to throw a bully off.

Tip #3: Change things up. Those who transfer money make sure that they keep their schedule fluid and unpredictable to prevent anyone who might want to rob them from knowing where they’ll be during any given time, thus making it harder for someone to plan an ambush. The same trick can work on bullies. Change up your routine in as many ways as possible. Take different routes between classes. Rush to class between periods one day, get there last the next. Alter the times you go to your locker. The more unpredictable you are, the harder you make it to consistently harass you. It will lighten the load, and may even make your bullies less motivated to go after you.

Bullying Avoidance Strategies for Parents

Tip #1: Locker switch. Try asking the school to switch your child’s locker to a different hallway if this will get them away from a bully.

Tip #2: Drive a child to school or arrange for ways they can get rides from others. Even if you aren’t able to do this every day, those days that you can do it may eliminate two episodes of harassment and/or assault on that day. It also provides unpredictability to your child’s routine.

Tip #3: If you have a younger child in elementary school, you might try riding the bus with your child. This is not a good strategy for older kids.

Tip #4: Talk with the school about switching class times around so that it’s easier for a child to avoid their bullies.

Tip #5: Of course, the ultimate avoidance strategy is simply to switch schools. Many counties have open enrollment, which allows you to switch between any schools in the area. Just keep in mind that this doesn’t always stop the bullying. Many kids will find it starts anew at the new school. Another option in extreme cases is home school. If your child is bullied severely enough that they are becoming depressed or suicidal, it should be considered. Just keep in mind that while home schooling may eliminate bully problems, it also eliminates peer interaction which is an important part of socialization. You should try to make up for this in other ways, through things like participation in team sports or other peer-group activities.

As we say elsewhere, dealing with bullies is not a zero-sum game. Every bit you can prevent by taking steps that keep the bully and your child on separate paths will reduce their burden that much more. It can make all the difference between a child who is reaching their breaking point every day versus one who is hurt and annoyed by the bullying but can otherwise still function effectively in their daily lives.

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